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Get your Phish Phix

Kimberly Nicoletti

KEYSTONE – When Phish, a jamband phenomenon, took a hiatus in 2000, Phix, which plays The Goat tonight, stepped in and offered people a much needed, well, Phix.

For the past three years, Phix has delivered the sound and spirit of Phish’s music nationwide.

Though the musicians don’t imitate Phish’s tunes precisely, they use the band’s compositions as a framework to create Phish-esque jams.

“I knew it wouldn’t be a cover band gig,” said drummer Chris Sheldon. “I knew we could take it to really cool places. (Phish tunes) are just sort of a framework we use. We change the keys or the original groove, then go back the same way we came in or find another way out.”

The main thing the band strives for is the Phish experience.

“We try to recreate the special energy and spontaneity of a Phish concert,” Sheldon said. “We pull off the energy exchange in the room really well.”

In fact, some “phans” pretend they’re at a Phish concert or fool their friends.

“A lot of people will face the back wall and pretend they’re at a Phish show,” Sheldon said. “Others will call their friends, hold up their cell phones and say, “Dude, I’m in a small club, and Phish just showed up.’ We don’t look anything like them, but we try to sound like them. We can fool people a lot of the time.”

Phix also gives fanatics an opportunity to build their “phantasy” set list by e-mailing the band. For any given show, the musicians receive anywhere from one to 50 set list suggestions.

The band knows about one-fifth, or 100, of Phish’s repertoire. It can crank out tunes from “Anything But Me” to “You Enjoy Myself.”

And their progression as a band has paralleled Phish’s.

“We started with balls-out, crazy, insane jams,” Sheldon said. “Then, we got into the groove or trance music. We still freak out every once in awhile, but we’re getting as much out of playing grooves and not just doing crazy rocking.”

Within six months of forming Phix, the band began touring the nation.

“What made it work so well and so quickly is we all had the same musical backgrounds and tastes as the guys in Phish,” he said. “We had the style already. We just had to learn the notes.”

“(But) it was more complex than anything we had played before, and it forced us to stretch out into new musical territory,” said keyboardist Derek Berg in a press release.

Now that Phish has resurfaced, the musicians in Phix plan to create a more original band. They’ve written four intricate songs and hope to come up with about 10 more to perform this summer.

“It will take time to do it right,” Berg said. “By playing Phish music, we’ve created a pretty high standard that we’ll have to live up to.”

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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